3 years ago

Contribution of Surface Thermal Forcing to Mixing in the Ocean

Fei Wang, Shi-Di Huang, Ke-Qing Xia
A critical ingredient of a meridional overturning circulation (MOC) is vertical mixing, which causes dense waters in the deep sea to rise throughout the stratified interior to the upper ocean. Here, we report a laboratory study aimed at understanding the contributions from surface thermal forcing (STF) to this mixing process. Our study reveals that the ratio of the thermocline thickness to the fluid depth largely determines the mixing rate and the mixing efficiency in an overturning flow driven by STF. By applying this finding to a hypothetical MOC driven purely by STF, we obtain a mixing rate of O(10-6 m2 / s) and a corresponding meridional heat flux of O(10-2 PW), which are far smaller than the values found for real oceans. These results provide quantitative support for the notion that STF alone is not sufficient to drive the MOC, which essentially acts as a heat conveyor belt powered by other energy sources.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1002/2017JC013578

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.